FRIDAY 11 MAY 2018

SUBJECTS: Budget Reply; Labor’s plan for investing in unis and TAFE.

TANYA PLIBERSEK MP, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: We’ve just had a fantastic tour of the University of Technology and it really is a wonderful institution. I'm joined here by my friend and colleague, the candidate for the seat of Banks, Chris Gambian, and I just wanted to say a few words about the budget on Tuesday night and Bill's budget reply last night. The Budget on Tuesday night told you everything you need to know about this Government and the priorities of this Government.  What you saw is an absolute commitment to retain $80 billion of big business tax cuts including $17 billion of tax cuts for the banks - and baked in cuts to the services that people rely on. So the Government kept its $17 billion of cuts to our schools, the Government kept its cuts to TAFE and training, it kept its cuts to universities and it kept its cuts to hospitals as well. In contrast, on Thursday night what you saw from Bill Shorten was a vision that laid out - yes tax cuts for 10 million Australians, bigger tax cuts than the Government is offering - but also an investment in the services that Australians rely on. New investment in hospitals, new investment in MRI machines to make sure that Australians with conditions like cancer don't have to drive for thousands of kilometres to get an MRI scan. You also saw an education policy that I'm very proud of. Of course Labor is committed to reversing every dollar of the $17 billion cut from the schools budget by this Government.

We've also made some very important announcements in the area of TAFE and universities, we've committed to ensuring that 100,000 Australians can go to TAFE with no upfront fees. It is inexplicable that some professions stay on the skills shortage list for years and years longer than it takes to train people to do those jobs. Wherever we have unemployed people and skills shortages it is mad not to make sure that we are investing in technical education so unemployed people can take on those jobs, and these 100,000 upfront fee-free places mean that we will be able to ensure that those skills - bricklaying, pastry chef, hairdressing, come off the skills shortage list and that jobs are filled by young people getting a great education at TAFE, or older workers re-training for the jobs that are relevant for them in their communities.

We've also committed on Thursday night to reversing the Government’s vandalism in the university sector.  The $2.2 billion of cuts just before Christmas mean that thousands of Australians will miss out on a university education. In fact the university sector estimates that number to be about 10,000 next year growing to over 200,000 people missing out over the decade. By re-introducing the demand driven system, uncapping access to universities, we'll see many more Australians get the opportunity of a university education, because if you're prepared to work hard, if you're prepared to aim high, you should be able to get a place in university and Labor will guarantee that you will be able to. Now I want to ask Chris Gambian to add a few words because he knows the importance of investing in education for Australians, thanks Chris.

CHRIS GAMBIAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BANKS: Thanks very much Tanya, it's been great to tour the university with Tanya here today. Education changes people’s lives, it changed my life, I was the first person in my family to get a university degree. In my seat of Banks, in the local area, when Labor was elected, when caps were removed for undergraduate places, we've seen over that period a 45 per cent increase, that's just about 2,000 extra undergraduates who come from my area. Compare that to just around a thousand fewer apprenticeships for my area since the Liberals have been in power. This is an area of policy that can make a fundamental difference to the kind of future young people have and I'm incredibly proud to be part of a Party and hopefully part a government that will make changes that we sorely need.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks Chris. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Tanya, you have committed to TAFE and university funding being on an equal footing.  Labor has promised $9 billion over ten years for universities, less than $1 billion for TAFE, how do you reconcile that, and how will you ensure that state governments do their part in funding TAFE?

PLIBERSEK: Yes, well you're quite right it is very important that we work in partnership with state governments to see reinvestment in the TAFE sector.  Under Liberal governments around the country we've seen them close down TAFE campuses, reduce the number of courses available, indeed we saw in New South Wales a secret plan to sell off even more TAFE campuses not so long ago, so it is important that we work with the states and territories to have a first rate TAFE system. We want a strong, world class university system side by side with a strong, world class technical and vocational education system with public TAFE at the centre of it . As you know, we made an announcement some months ago that on coming to government Labor will launch a once in a generation report on how our TAFE and university sectors can both be strengthened together. We need to treat post-secondary school education- look at the way that these two very independent sectors operate together to give people the best opportunity of lifelong learning. So of course we'll have more to say when we're in Government about TAFE and universities, but last night's commitments are commitments that I am very proud of - 100,000 fee free TAFE places and 200,000 extra students going to uni over the next 12 years.

JOURNALIST: The problem is the lack of money in the TAFE sector, where is that new money coming from? Because I can't see it here in your policy.

PLIBERSEK: The cost over [four] years is just over $400 million and we have provisioned for that very clearly. Last Budget, the Government cut over $600 million from the TAFE sector, we've said that we will respond to that with this 100,000 fee free places  plus the $100 million on the table for upgrading TAFE facilities around  the country. Now if people are doing vocational education they need to make sure that the equipment that they're using, the facilities that they are in, reflect industry standards. It's no good if you want to be working in a commercial kitchen to be working on a wood fired stove from the last century, we need to make sure that our TAFE facilities are up to date, we've got $100 million commitment to do that and we've got well over $400 million committed to these extra places. Thank you.